In a move pandering to Metro-area legislators and environmental zealots, tone-deaf Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Commerce, appealed, for the second time, the Public Utilities Commission’s decision approving Enbridge’s $2.9 billion Line 3 replacement pipeline. In a letter supporting Walz and Commerce, 16 Metro area DFL lawmakers said the decision was based upon a finding that oil demand “is not sufficient to justify a project that will contribute significantly to climate change, usurp Indigenous treaty rights and imperil Minnesota’s waters.”
Joining in the appeal to the courts, were Honor the Earth, the Sierra Club, the Red Lake and White Earth bands of Ojibwe, Friends of the Headwaters, and Youth Climate Interveners. The tactics employed by Line 3 pipeline opponents replicate those that are being used to block PolyMet and Twin Metals Minnesota’s copper-nickel mining projects in northeastern Minnesota. Contest the science-based findings — bring suit in the courts — appeal averse decisions, and delay, delay, delay.
In March 2018, the Minnesota PUC first approved the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and granted a Certificate of Need for the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline. The Dayton administration appealed the PUC’s decision. In February 2019 Commerce and Governor Walz announced that his administration would continue the court challenge begun under the Dayton administration.
In response to Gov. Mark Dayton’s appeal, the Star Tribune weighed in with their support for the replacement pipeline in a March 10, 2019 editorial. “For safety’s sake, let Enbridge build.” The arguments made by those opposing the pipeline, the paper noted, included the risk of pipeline spills to arguments that the pipeline will wed the state even further to fossil fuels. Further, the Strib wrote, the delay will mean even higher rail shipments of oil that “travels some of the most densely populated areas of the state, posing a potential environmental disaster should there be a derailment.” “Walz and the commerce Department should drop the court challenge and allow the project to proceed.”
In June 2019 the Minnesota Court of Appeals found that the EIS was inadequate in that it didn’t properly address the effect of an oil spill in the Lake Superior watershed. A new study was conducted, confirming that in the unlikely case of a spill, the Line 3 replacement segment did not introduce risk to Lake Superior.
In February 2020, the PUC approved Line 3 for a second time, the result of six years of public hearings (70), and a 13,500 page EIS. Yet, last week, the Governor and the Department of Commerce announced they would appeal the latest decision by the PUC granting a Certificate of Need and approving Enbridge’s plan to replace its Line 3 pipeline.
In a post-election appearance in Mountain Iron last year before a large audience of union officials as well as federal, state and local elected officials, Gov. Walz spoke of his support for jobs and his conviction that “We are one Minnesota.” Regrettably, the Governor’s words are contrary to his post-election actions that speak louder than his hollow campaign rhetoric.
Three projects are presently being proposed that will enormously benefit Northern Minnesota. The Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline is a $2.9 billion project that will generate 4,200 well- paying union jobs. Crossing 13 Minnesota counties before terminating in Superior, WI, it is estimated that Enbridge will pay an additional $20 million dollars in annual Minnesota property taxes in addition to the millions it already pays annually on the existing pipeline.
Copper-nickel mines PolyMet’s mine, a $1.0 billion project located near Hoyt Lakes and Twin Metals Minnesota’s mine, a $2.0 billion project to be located near Ely, will enormously benefit Northeastern Minnesota’s economy. Studies prepared by the U of Minnesota/Duluth found that mining jobs pay $70,000 or more. The two copper-nickel mines will create 1760 union mining jobs and 2,000 spin-off jobs in related industries. Each will pay millions of dollars in annual production taxes on the ore they mine that will go to support the state’s 336 school districts serving its 845,000 students. Yet, Gov. Walz has failed to support these mining projects that will provide desperately needed jobs for “One Minnesota.”
Once again, the Governor has displayed his contempt for rural Minnesota in deferring to Metro area special interests. Our advice to Gov.Walz: Ask for the resignation of Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelly. If he doesn’t resign, he should be fired. Lastly, end your opposition to the Line 3 pipeline by withdrawing the appeal made to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
Gerald M. Tyler, Chairman
Up North Jobs Inc., Ely